Building a developer tools business on a developer-focused cloud

Posted 2021-07-15  in Developer Relations
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Software is not only eating the world, it has developed an uncanny knack of inserting itself into every aspect of this world’s functioning. This means that any improvements to how software is developed have a real impact on the overall productivity of the global economy. Tools that improve the efficiency of software development, tools that allow software builder teams to raise the quality of their software, and services that enable businesses to run their apps reliably and securely are more important than ever before. As a result, there is an increased focus on building products and tools that make developer’s lives easier and their work more efficient.

More developers are building more apps for more platforms than ever before

Given such a huge demand for software experiences in our world, it is no surprise that the number of software developers globally continues to grow, and is projected to reach ~29M by 2024. The number of platforms available for developers to build apps upon is also growing. Desktop, mobile, smart devices, servers, web, cloud, embedded systems, edge, and IoT are just some examples of platforms developers are building on today.

The growth in software development presents an opportunity for software builders who build tools for software builders. Some of the challenges software developers face today include: 

  • Developers need to write, build, test and debug their code with greater velocity. They need to collaborate with their teams and get feedback from their users. Most importantly, they need to continue to learn and skill up on the latest technologies and methodologies.
  • The apps they are building need to be composed together using building block services - databases, notifications, authentication, payments, communications, machine learning, visualization, and so on.
  • These apps need to be deployed using automated pipelines and once in production, they need to be operated using modern management and monitoring tools.
  • These apps need to be served from the most optimal locations to ensure low latency experience for their users.

These and many more requirements stemming from the deluge of software development have created a new breed of developer tools. These tools are coming not only from large software companies of the past, but also from newer, more nimble companies that hyperfocus on certain important but underserved aspects of software development.

The growing demand for  developer tools and services

In the past decade or so, the developer tools and services business has exploded. Innovative developer teams have found new and more efficient ways to solve software development challenges, and many have also created new possibilities and scenarios. Github, Twilio, Stripe, MongoDB, and even DigitalOcean are only a few examples of developer-focused companies that came in and carved out a name for themselves in crowded areas. They accomplished this by focusing on the needs of underserved audiences and underserved scenarios, and by providing differentiated experiences to developers. In fact, online Q&A forums like Stack Overflow, online programming interview practice tools like LeetCode, and online community forums like DEV are also examples of services that make developers’ lives easier.

We can see this growth by looking at the Forbes Cloud 100 list, the annual ranking of the world’s top private cloud companies. In the previous iteration, ~20% of the companies included in that list were developer-focused businesses. Many others, though not developer products themselves, still provide extensibility points that allow software developers to extend the core capabilities of those products.

DigitalOcean: The ideal cloud for building developer tools

At DigitalOcean, we know a thing or two about building a business that is focused on developers. We do it by:

DigitalOcean is a trusted advisor for those building developer tools 

Given our popularity with developers, it is no surprise that other businesses who are also trying to serve developers find DigitalOcean to be an ally with a shared ethos and developer-first mindset. Those building tools for developers need cloud services, and DigitalOcean helps them every step of the way.

Businesses building developer tools on DigitalOcean include managed database solutions, edge computing platforms, serverless platforms, CI/CD solutions, API services, developer collaboration tools, online programming environments, among many others.

  • Bunnyshell’s mission is to allow developers to focus on building applications without worrying about infrastructure. It offers cloud-agnostic infrastructure management and application management, as well as DevOps tools for deployment and monitoring. Bunnyshell was looking for an infrastructure provider that allowed it to provide reliable services to its customers in a cost-effective manner.

    "What we really like about DigitalOcean is the keen customer focus. As a company that serves developers, we want a partner that understands our customers and has a shared purpose. DigitalOcean not only provides world-class infrastructure but they truly get developers. This makes our job easier in terms of building management services for them.”
    - Roxana Ciobanu, CTO of BunnyShell

We create opportunities for others to do what they do best

One unique thing about DigitalOcean as a cloud provider is our intense focus. We know where our strengths lie and where we need to rely on ecosystem partners. We believe the developer tools space is big enough for many successful businesses to not only co-exist but thrive, so instead of building everything ourselves we believe in nurturing an ecosystem of partners.  These partners build developer tools to enrich the experience of developers building on our platform or on any other. In fact, we go one step further, and actively invest in builders helping builders through our Hatch program.

  • Section is a developer-centric, container-based edge computing platform that empowers application engineers to run any workload, anywhere. They achieve this by leveraging a global network of DigitalOcean compute resources to run their edge network, aggregating existing infrastructure to make it flexible enough to meet the performance, security, and scalability needs of all websites. 

    “With DigitalOcean, we get a low-cost option with great support and reliability.”
    - Director of Education & Awareness, Molly Wojcik

Developer tools providers can start small and scale economically

Like most SaaS businesses, even developer tools and services products are faced with the problem of managing scale effectively. By providing industry leading price-performance packages, and especially attractive bandwidth economics at high scale, DigitalOcean provides a perfect cloud computing platform for developers tools.

  • Scraper API is an API that allows developers to build scalable web scrapers. If you’re running an online price comparison site and need to look up millions of websites a day, it requires a lot of infrastructure, IP addresses, browsers, etc. Scraper API manages this kind of platform which allows data-intensive companies to easily get the data they need.

    “We had been growing 10 to 20% a month. And every step of the way, DO had tools that were exactly what it was right. We came for the simplicity and then, as we scaled, we were actually very pleasantly surprised by many things on the platform”
    - Daniel Ni, CEO & Founder of Scraper API

Even developer tools builders need to build software efficiently

Even if your team is capable of handling all the complexity thrown at you by major cloud providers, it doesn't mean you should. As a business, ultimately you are rewarded for the value you deliver to your customers, and not for the heavy lifting of infrastructure behind the scenes. DigitalOcean handles your infrastructure needs with ease, enabling you to focus on growing your business.

  • Parabol is a remote meeting platform for developer teams embracing agile practices. With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the business world’s shift online and to digital meetings, Parabol saw weekly customer sign-ups increase by more than ten times. They were able to quickly and easily redesign their infrastructure setup to allow for greater scale using additional DigitalOcean Droplets and the Managed Databases offering. This allowed Parabol to move from hosting approximately 10,000 simultaneous sessions to several hundred thousand without disruption.

    “As a founder, I didn’t want to spend time micromanaging infrastructure and doing XML sit-ups. When the pandemic happened and traffic grew tenfold, the robust DigitalOcean platform allowed us to scale seamlessly, without any disruption to our operations, so we could continue to focus on running our business.”
    - Jordan Husney, Cofounder & CEO of Parabol

DigitalOcean is proud to be a developer-focused company. If you are also in the business of serving software developers, then we would love to hear from you. 

Contact us to learn more about free infrastructure credits, robust training, and technical support to help you migrate your developer-focused tools and services to our platform.

Come build with DigitalOcean!